Vocal Health Tips — NO cough drops!

Well, it is that time of year when people start to get colds, coughs, etc. It’s really important to take care of your voice! Your vocal chords are just two folds of skin-like tissue and can be easily damaged. They’re most commonly damaged when they slam into each other or are stretched tight. So, please take care of them. Here are a few tips:

  1. NO cough drops!!! While cough drops can numb your throat and bring you comfort, they also numb your vocal chords and they have to work harder stretching thin and slamming into each other for you to speak or sing. If you must take cough drops, the perfect time is before bed. This way you can sleep better without coughing so much and you’re not using your voice.
  2. A safe route of bringing your throat comfort and soothing a cough is to drink warm liquids with honey and lemon. This time of year I keep a batch of honey/lemon/ginger in the refrigerator for easy access. Simply thinly slice a lemon or two and some fresh ginger, mix with and cover with honey. Make sure to keep the fruit covered with honey as it acts as a preservative. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Mix with hot water or tea.
  3. Take a vocal time out. Giving your voice rest is the best medicine to having it recover.
  4. Gargle with warm salt water. I know this sounds disgusting. I’m not going to tell you it’s not. However, it really works to clear out phlegm from the back of your throat which causes a lot of coughing as your body is trying to expel it.
  5. When you are loosing your voice or have lost your voice for whatever reason, don’t whisper! Whispering puts more stress on your vocal chords and throat than speaking does. Just speak normally. If it comes out funny, well, it comes out funny. People will be sympathetic as they too have had times when their voice sounds odd due to illness.
  6. Drink lots and lots of water! You need to keep yourself hydrated and keeping your throat wet will help with vocal health.
  7. Keep your throat warm. Luckily wearing scarves is in high fashion right now!
  8. Drink throat coat tea. It’s a pleasant, comforting thing to drink and may help.

I hope you find these tips helpful. Do you have other suggestions? Share them here.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!   Lillieth

Cost of Raising a Child with Disabilities

Recently a graphic came across my desk depicting the cost of raising a child birth to age 18. And while I found it interesting, I couldn’t help think about how this is altered for a family who is raising a child with disabilities. Allow me to explain.

A family raising a child with a disability pays more for education because they are paying for many therapeutic services out of pocket, many times to the tune of $90-$140 per hour. Babysitters tend to be more expensive as well, especially for those of us who have children who have medical needs and require someone with medical training to care for our child when we need them. For me, this runs anywhere from $10-$20 per hour. Healthcare is more expensive too as these children tend to have more doctor and therapy visits and see several specialists. This means more co-pays. Many children are also in need of special healthcare such as homeopathic medicine, chinese methodologies, and chiropractic care.

Everyday items that most would not think of tend to be higher in expense too. For many of us, housing can be more. My child utilizes a wheelchair and so we need wheelchair accessible housing which tends to be more in the rental market. Few of us in the middle or lower class can afford homes because we are spending so much every month on other expenses for our child. Clothing can be more expensive too. My child is incontinent and will quite often leak through his diaper. He will typically go through 2-3 pairs of pants and shirts each day. This means that his wardrobe needs to be at least twice the size of a typical child. Many of my clients are extremely hard on their clothing causing their parents to replace items faster than they would for a typical child.

For many of us, transportation cost can be higher as well. Wheelchair accessible vans cost dramatically more than vans that are not accessible. And vans tend to cost more than cars. They also do not get as good of gas mileage, so gas cost goes up too.

Food costs is one area where it may or may not be more expensive. Some children are not able to eat or have a liquid diet that their health insurance will cover. Our insurance does not cover the cost of the nutritional beverages that primarily sustain my son. Many children with special needs are picky eaters and will go through phases where they will only eat one thing, which can raise or lower food cost. So, groceries may or may not be an increased cost for a family. For my family, they are just slightly higher.

Another area where it may or may not be more expensive is that of toys. My son has had the same favorite toys for nine years with very few additions. So, our toy cost is lower. However, it also makes him very difficult to buy presents for! Many families though have a child who is destructive to their toys and they need to replace them more often. Or, parents will buy new toys often in an attempt to find a few that their child will interact with appropriately. In these cases, toy cost can be higher.

All in all, it is more expensive to raise a child with special needs than it is to raise a typical child. And, contrary to popular belief, we parents do not receive an extra tax break. Also, many of us do not qualify for state or federal assistance with these costs. My child doesn’t.

Regardless of the added expense, there are amazing benefits of having a child with a disability! I wouldn’t change mine a bit and he’s worth every penny!!! Please reply to this post below and let me know what you think. What is this experience for you?

Here’s the link to the graphic: http://www.cryobank.com/crib-to-college.html

Music Therapy: the Space for Miracles

“Miracles?” You ask. Yes! I have been doing this work for nearly 20 years and over those years my clients have repeatedly accomplished what would be considered miracles. Let me explain.

When I think of the word “miracle” I think of an amazing or wonderful event, a marvel even, that was otherwise unimaginable. The number of times when a person has surpassed what was expected to be their maximum potential in music therapy is too numerous to describe here, but I will give you a few examples. These examples come not just from my practice, but also from some of my colleagues.

I was working with a 5-year-old child who had cerebral palsy and was thought to be non-communicative. However, he would laugh appropriately at jokes and cry appropriately at TV shows, so we knew that he understood but was trapped in a body that wouldn’t allow him to speak. One day in music therapy, we were working on bilateral grip for him to be able to play small percussion instruments. I wanted for him to indicate which instrument he wanted to play and knew that he loved the quacker (a handheld instrument that makes a duck-like sound) and didn’t like the loud maraca, so those are the two that I gave him the choice from. He was able to choose using eye gaze!!! I tried another choice, and he looked right at the one that he wanted. He started to laugh, I assume because he was pleased to be able to make choices, and I asked him if we should invite his mother in to see and he looked me straight in the eye, which I interpreted as “yes”. When she saw what he was doing in making choices, she said that they had been trying for years to teach him to use his eyes to communicate. Laughing and crying, she stated this was a miracle and she was so proud. From that day on, that child was able to make choices between physical objects and even pictures of desired activities. He was also able to indicate yes by looking directly at you and no by looking away from you. What a difference this made in this childs life!

While I was working in a children’s hospital, it was common for me to be called in to trauma cases when they were contemplating withdrawal of support (pulling the plug) because the child was unresponsive even to pain. Two out of five times I was able to get a response using auditory stimuli. This information helped the parents and medical team in decision making.

Many times working in the hospital with children who had traumatic brain injury I saw miracles. It was common for these children to experience their ‘firsts’ in music therapy. One child, we’ll call her Sherry, was crushed under a deck when it fell, a support beam falling directly on her skull. After a long time in coma, the doctors felt it was time for her to wake, but she just wasn’t. So, they called for music therapy. I was able to get some reaction in that first session, but not more than the medical team was able to get with pain stimuli, until… I sang her favorite song. She smiled and squeezed her mother’s hand. From that day forward, every day she accomplished new things. I was privileged to see all of her firsts: the first time she smiled, opened her eyes, moved purposefully, made vocal sound, sang a word (she was able to sing before she was able to speak), all the way to walking and talking. These miracles, while not to be diminished, are actually common in music therapy. Sherry, by the way, is now in regular education and considered typically functioning. She is known by her family as, “our miracle girl”.

Music therapists work with many populations and the following story, while not mine, has always touched me. My dear friend, Kathy Schellin was working with a group of elders with dementia and their spouses. She was going to do an intervention using reminiscence and put on a piece of music that would have been popular when these folks were in their late teens to early twenties (what the research says that we all respond to best in our older years). One gentleman who was non-verbal at this point and in the latter stages of dementia, stood up, turned to his wife and put his hand out (a common gesture to ask a woman to dance). They danced together, him holding her close, the entire song clearly a couple who loved each other deeply and enjoyed dancing together. The wife had tears streaming down her face. When the song ended, he returned to his seat and his face went expressionless once again. His wife said that was the first time in years that he had touched her affectionately or even shown any knowledge of who she was. She treasured that experience! It was a miracle!

Here are a couple of other stories my friends have generously shared with me on Facebook:

My former intern, Cheryl Olson, shared: “Just saw a patient this morning with end-stage Alzheimer’s who appears to be entering the “catatonic” part of the disease progression. During the music, the patient opened her eyes, looked right at me, and smiled. When I asked if she was enjoying the music, she nodded her head and gave an enthusiastic “Mmm hmm” and smiled again. The best part was when she started clapping her hands after each song – something that she hasn’t done in a very long time, according to the facility staff. Funny enough, I actually had the phrase “making miracles” go through my head afterwards.”

Kimberly Thompson shared, “My very first practicum site: inclusive classroom, one child was selectively mute and never spoke in school…only to gramma at home. We were observing a group MT sessions throughout the semester, and the last session was my turn to lead….I had this compulsion to go and buy kazoos to give the kids as a goodbye token and activity…and this kiddo engaged that vocal box, the same muscles he refused to use with expressive communication, and shocked everyone kazooing quietly and then louder and louder….Mouth dropped. Power of MT, sold! After 2 years in a group, this was his first vocal contribution:-)”

I could go on and on with story after story, but I won’t as this blog post is already long. Miracles, while common in music therapy, are not to be under appreciated. It is a privilege to be the “space of miracles” for the amazing clients that I have the joy of working with! To all of my clients, current/past/future, thank you for including me in your lives and allowing me to help make a difference in your life!!!

When is it NOT music therapy?

The Voice on NBC is one of my favorite shows. I love that they are judging people, at least initially, based solely on their voice and their vocal delivery of a chosen song. As a vocalist myself I have a deep appreciation for what these contestants are bringing to the table. I have been contacted by several loved ones and friends at the mention of what they see as “music therapy” on the show. Not everything that looks like music therapy is music therapy. Hence, this blog post.

There are several ‘Voice’ contestants who have utilized music to enhance their lives, some dramatically so. While a wonderful and worthy use of music, this is NOT music therapy. Let me give you a few examples.

Joselyn Rivera, one of the contestants, was born pre-maturely and subsequently was delayed in her development. At the age of four, the doctor prescribed the use of music to assist with her neurological development. Kudos to the doctor for reading up on current research and realizing the power of music! Joselyn’s parents bought her a karaoke machine. Through singing, she was able to make gains in her communication and cognitive development. While I am thrilled at her success story, I can’t help but wonder how much faster and more she could have accomplished with a trained music therapist. You see, a music therapist would have tailored the music she was singing to help her specifically with targeted areas. A music therapist would have also utilized other individualized music strategies to help Joselyn achieve her developmental goals.

By singing Shirley Ellis’ “The Name Game” over and over again, Lauren Brooke was able to make strides in school despite having dyslexia. That’s GREAT! How boring to sing the same song over and over again though. There are many strategies that a music therapist can employ to assist a child with the challenges of dyslexia. Had Lauren had a music therapist working with her, she might have indeed sung “The Name Game” as well as other songs that have similar patterns. However, a music therapist would also have used music strategies to assist with auditory processing skills, sequencing, and visual tracking, among other things.

Contestant Diego Val had a disease that disintegrates his hip bones. He spent a good portion of his childhood in hospitals having multiple surgeries and rehabilitation time. He is now a hospital musician and sings to hospitalized children. What a wonderful thing for a musician to do – bring musical entertainment and joy to hospitalized children! I love that he does this! However, this is NOT music therapy. A music therapist in a children’s hospital helps children with pain, emotional expression, cooperation with treatment, supporting them through medical procedures, coma stimulation, and rehabilitation. A music therapist, though capable, is not there for entertainment. The fact that the children enjoy music therapy is a bonus, not the point.

All of these stories highlight the power of music. Can you imagine how much more powerful it is in the hands of a trained professional? A board certified music therapist is trained in how to utilize music and the elements of music to assist their patients to achieve all sorts of non-musical goals. Our tool & partner (music) is indeed powerful. See my earlier blog post about how music can cause harm.

To be clear, not everything that a music therapist can do is music therapy. A music therapist might offer instrument or voice lessons. Also, when I am at typical preschools doing early childhood music education, this is not music therapy. In many instances, a music therapist is uniquely apt to perform these jobs, but even we have to be careful about what is and is not called music therapy.

In closing, I have a quick funny story for you. While telling a friend about what his mother does for a living, my son was explaining that it’s important for a music therapist to be trained (apparently he has been listening). He said, “”someone who is not trained but says that they do music therapy is like me saying that I can do construction because I’ve played with Legos.” While this is a gross exaggeration, I think the kid’s on to something there! For more information on why you’d want a board certified music therapist, check out this page (http://www.cbmt.org/frequently-asked-questions/) on the Certification Board for Music Therapists’ website.

Until next time, be well.
Lillieth Grand

Back to School and Music Therapy

Can you believe that summer is almost over? Here at Milestone Music Therapy we are gearing up for the new Fall schedule. Kids are going back to school and we are re-evaluating goals in alignment with that. In Oregon, children start back to school the week of Labor Day. Because my master’s degree is in special education,  I’m often asked if music therapy can be used in schools, as part of a child’s IEP, and toward academic goals. The answer to all of those is a resounding YES!!!

Music Therapy can be included in a child’s IEP (Individualized Education Program) in a couple of ways.

  1. Music therapy can be considered as a related service in the same way that physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and other direct services are considered. To be included as a related service, that treatment must be considered ‘necessary’ for the child to benefit from his/her special education. Necessity is determined through a music therapy eligibility assessment conducted by a board certified music therapist. Please note that while many children can benefit from music therapy, it is not necessary for every child to benefit from his/her special education. Much of this is determined by the IEP goals themselves and if music therapy would/could even target those goals. Related services can be delivered in either 1:1 or group format. If you are interested in having your child receive a music therapy eligibility assessment you can request that the school district contract with a board certified music therapist to conduct one. For supporting documentation prior to making this request, please contact us using the button above.
  2. Music therapy can be included in an IEP as a supplemental service. Supplemental services are those that are not necessary, but helpful in the special education of a child or group of children. Many districts will include music therapy to all children of a certain diagnosis, or class type, or other classification. Usually these services are delivered in group settings and the goals are group oriented such as social skills, and attention span while in a group. On occasion a school district or even an individual teacher will use discretionary funds for this purpose. Sometimes a music therapist is hired to provide adaptive music education classes, similarly to how adaptive physical education is sometimes included in IEPs.

Many academic goals can be addressed through the use of music therapy. Here are just a few quick examples:

  • Auditory Processing
  • Auditory Tracking
  • Attention Span
  • Reading Comprehension and Fluency
  • Sequencing
  • Color, Number, Shape Recognition
  • Handwriting
  • Gross Motor Coordination
  • Math Concepts
  • Visual Tracking
  • Sensory Integration
  • Phonics
  • Receptive & Expressive Communication
  • Following 1/2/3-step Directions
  • and more…

Milestone has a screening tool that can be helpful for parents and districts to determine if a music therapy eligibility assessment would be appropriate for a child. Contact us at the button above and we will send you a copy of the form.

I welcome your questions and comments below.

Can music be dangerous? YES!

Many states are seeking legislation to insure that consumers are treated by a qualified and board certified music therapist (MT-BC). Why is that so important? Can’t anyone use music to help people? What harm is there in having someone who isn’t trained treating people using music?

First, let me say that yes, anyone can use music to help people. However, it may be important to at least consult with a music therapist to assist in how to use that music effectively and not cause harm. I worked with a fabulous physical therapist when I lived in California and she used to say that prior to working with a music therapist, she was improperly using music. But, after some training from me, she was able to use music in her treatment much more effectively. She would also tell anyone who would listen that she was able to achieve three times as much with her clients when she co-treated with a board certified music therapist (MT-BC). Collaborating and co-treating are two of my favorite professional things to do!

I’ve alluded to the fact that improper use of music can cause harm. Here is one example: I was working in a major children’s hospital when one of the PICU doctors called me in to consult on a case. There was a young teenager who ran his snowmobile into a tree and suffered a traumatic brain injury. He was in a stage of coma where he was extremely agitated. His parents consulted with someone who claimed to be a music therapist but was not. That person programmed music for them to play at their child’s bedside to help him relax. The result of that music was increased agitation, increased heart rate (to dangerous levels), and decreased oxygen saturation rates. This necessitated increased sedation medication which can have negative side effects.

Luckily, our doctors knew to call in the qualified staff (me) to consult on the case. They were playing some beautiful Mozart concerto when I came in. The child was in restraints and writhing on his bed. When I asked the mother if her son liked classical music and if that would have been his music of choice to relax to prior to the accident, she replied, “oh no. He hates classical music!” I asked them to turn the music off, but his agitation continued. I asked what music he would relax to and his parents refused to tell me because they were ashamed. Once I explained that we could deal with his poor musical taste after recovery and explained why we would be using music purposefully and cited some research, they were on board. His sister revealed that he liked to relax to gangster rap. His mother said that this was unimaginable to her, and frankly to me too, but for this child, that is what would work. So, after conducting further assessment, I set up a music listening program specifically for him. As soon as I started playing the music that would work to help him relax, he let out a huge sigh and visibly relaxed. His heart rate lowered to normal in less than three minutes and his oxygen saturation rate went from 82% to 96% and remained stable. He was able then to relax and fall asleep without further sedation medication, allowing his body and brain to focus on healing.

Having the training of a music therapist and knowing the latest research on neurological effects of music was key in assisting this teen. The person who was trying to help these parents help their child was well-meaning, but uneducated. So, yes, music can cause harm.

Here is another example, and it is actually the one possible negative side effect of utilizing music by anyone, even a music therapist: triggering negative emotional associations. While working with a seriously ill patient who was suffering from the same condition that killed her father, my intern at the time had an interesting experience. That patient had a particularly difficult week and truly deserved a break. The team thought that she also needed to refocus on those things that bring her happiness. So, the intern brought in the book and song “Sunshine on my Shoulders” by John Denver. About half way through the song, the patient broke down into uncontrollable sobbing. As it turns out, that is the song that her father used to sing to her every night. Luckily, a music therapist is trained and able to deal with instances such as this and it actually turned out for the best as she had not grieved the loss of her father. It ended up being a cathartic experience for that patient. If it had been a music volunteer or someone else with out proper training, that patient would not have been able to come to catharsis, rather they would have been left in a state of despair. Later that day, the psychologist called me thanking me for helping this patient begin her grief process.

Music is a powerful tool. It can be used to cause positive change and just as easily can be misused and cause injury, emotional and physical. Music therapists are human beings and will occasionally make mistakes. Trained and board certified music therapists will recognize when an approach is not working or even potentially dangerous and  alter treatment appropriately. It is important to protect those with whom we work by providing them with professional treatment by those qualified to do so.

Working with Parents of Exceptional Children

Earlier this month I gave a presentation during the Online Conference for Music Therapists on this subject. I believe that when we treat a child, we are actually working with an entire family as what we do has impact on everyone who cares for that child. As a music therapist of nearly 20 years, it has been my privilege to work WITH many parents and caregivers.  I believe that parents are our partners throughout the process of music therapy.

I am uniquely suited to help music therapists understand what it is to parent a child with special needs because I am one. That’s right, I am the proud single parent of an almost 11 year old boy who is severely neurologically impaired. For years I said that if he sees his ninth birthday it would be a miracle. So, every year when we get to celebrate another birthday I thank God that we had that year and pray for just one more. I spent the first portion of the presentation telling them about what it is really is like from my experience: the added expenses, the housing & car logistics, the grief process, the acceptance process, the advocacy struggles, the sleep deprivation, the social impact, the joy, the blessing, etc. Hopefully it gave them insight into some of the processes that their client’s parents go through.

Several years ago another music therapist, Holly Baxter, and I surveyed many parents and related professional colleagues (OTs, PTs, SLP’s, teachers, etc.) and developed a list of Do’s and Don’ts for working with Parents. These are the basic premises and rules that I function when partnering with parents. I will share it with you here:

DO

DON’T

Allow for time to interact with parents at the end of sessions (1 clinical hour = 50 min. treatment + 10 min. consultation/paperwork) Forget to communicate with parents – especially if they are not the ones present at therapy time (maybe with the nanny or brought by the bus or in school setting)
Give credence to parent’s issues or concerns – NO ONE knows their child better than they do! (usually) Minimize or dramatize issues or concerns – both the parents and/or your own (i.e. this might not be their only child)
Work with the parents in the best interest of the client. Trust your instincts as a therapist and keep an open mind when parents make suggestions or request specific things. Allow the parent to run your session or tell you how to do music therapy. Conducting a session to please the parents may not be serving the client well.
Keep communication going to explain your choices and/or methods and to keep everyone “on the same page” as far as what is happening in your sessions. Expect parents to know why you do what you do. (You don’t want them saying, “Boy, I wish I could make money for just playing around”)
Use concrete examples when discussing abilities and needs ~ i.e. “Ryan is beginning to use his right hand to strike the cymbal on his left side” rather than, “Ryan is crossing midline.” Expect parents to have the education or knowledge that you have. Technical words can confuse and intimidate when not paired with explanations.

 

Model skills for the parents ~ i.e. positive reinforcement, shaping, appropriate verbal instrucion, cuing, physical positioning, etc. Expect parents to get it perfect the first time, or maybe anytime. You may have to model things several times.
Give homework that is reasonable and keep the parents accountable to do it. The research shows that no more than 15 minutes, or three activities for home program is reasonable.

The best homework are activities that can be incorporated into everyday activities. i.e. bath time, in the car, before bed, etc.

Overwhelm the parents with too much work, or they may choose to do nothing.

Expect the parent to be a therapist or intuitively know how or when to do homework activities.

Become familiar with the stressors that the parents are under so you can better empathize with them. EVER say, “I know” ~ you probably have no idea what they are going through, even if you have been through a similar situation.
Familiarize yourself with the stressors in your client’s life. i.e. if Grandma is visiting from Virginia, diet changes, medications, sleep, etc. Be rigid in the structure of your treatment session so you can best utilize the iso principle.

Lastly, I shared a song that I wrote during a particularly difficult time in my life. It was three days prior to my then 2 year old’s massive brain surgery, I was contemplating divorce, and my business was going through growing pains. I will share that with you here as well:

God Give Me Strength

God won’t give you more than you can handle
Why does he think so much of me?
I feel like Job, but I know
I can stand on what I believe
CHORUS
God give me strength, grant me peace
Help me to see the blessings too
God give me strength, grant me peace
Help me be the woman I should be
I feel like a juggler with all her balls in the air
And I don’t know which one’s up or down
I give it all to God ‘cause I know
He’ll help me sort it out somehow
People say, “I don’t understand how well you’re taking it all”
I think, “why, oh why, can’t they see?”
My heart’s in turmoil and I feel so alone
Then I remember God’s promise to me
CHORUS
People say, “hold on, keep on”
Other people say, “move on, walk on”
And I fall to my knees
CHORUS x2
TAG:  I could be. I will be!
by Lillieth Grand

Sensory Integration Effects Voice Too!

I was speaking with one of my son’s speech therapists the other day about what I do in music therapy. After giving her a case example, she said, “you should publish that!” Well, I have heard that many times over the years. Unfortunately, when I sold my practice, my records went with it and I no longer have the hard data. However, I can still tell the story and I think it’s an important one. So, here you go:

I was working with a pre-teen who had generalized dyspraxia and severe sensory integration dysfunction. He was really bright, but had difficulty communicating. When he did speak, his voice was nearly non-existent and he spoke with as few words as possible. However, when he was in a state of high self-stimulation such as bouncing on a ball or spinning, or when he was really upset, you could hear his voice plain as day. So, we knew he had a voice and could use it. Multiple speech therapists had been working with him for years and years, but were not successful in getting increased volume. I had some success with having him sing, but it was not generalizing to speech. He really wanted to fully participate in his bar mitzvah which meant that he would have to say/sing pages of prayers in front of people.

My major instrument is my voice and I have taken and taught voice lessons for years. I was becoming frustrated at not being able to help him gain his voice. One day, it dawned on me that his voice might actually be painful for him in the way that people lightly touching him was painful due to his sensory integration dysfunction. I asked him what his voice felt like, if it was comfortable, if it felt funny, etc. He said, “ouch”.

I want to take a moment and explain what was causing this pain for my client. When one creates vocal sound, the bones, cartilage, and sinus cavities of the face and head vibrate. Most of us learn from the time that we are infants to incorporate those vibrations into the sensory experience of vocalizing. Vocalists can alter their voice to vibrate more or less in certain parts of their face, neck, and chest to influence their tone.  It was with this, and sensory integration, knowledge that I started the real work on this boy’s voice.

Through collaboration with his speech therapist and occupational therapist, I developed a desentization program for this client. We started with a very small vibrator and I had him vibrate key areas of his face as he counted outloud. We then systematically increased the intensity and number of seconds that he could tolerate the vibration. We got to the point where he could tolerate an electric back massager for 20 seconds on each of the 7 targeted areas on his face. That’s a lot of vibration! After about 2 months, people who knew him for years were commenting on how much better they were able to understand him. After 6 months, he was able to perform his Bar Mitzvah in full without assistance.  When he had times that using his voice was important, such as giving a speech for class or participating in his IEP meeting, he would vibrate his face ahead of time so that he could better tolerate the use of his voice.

Working with this particular client provided me with many a-ha moments that have since shaped my career, this instance definitely being one of them. Since then I have noticed similar vocal issues in other children who have autism and even traumatic brain injury. For instance, while working in a children’s hospital, I noticed that many children with traumatic brain injury almost forget how to use their voice. Through the use of sensory integration and auditory feedback techniques I was successful in helping them gain their voices.

Having a voice is one of the greatest gifts that we have and something that we often take for granted. It is one of the human being’s primary methods to convey meaning in communication. I hope that by sharing this story you and those you work with are able to benefit. As always, I love your feedback!

Thanks for reading!  Lillieth

2011 Wrap-up

WOW! What a stellar year!

For me personally, 2011 was the year of transitions. In January, as a 43-year-old single mother of two older boys (ages 12 & 10), I gave birth to another baby boy. The end of June found me unemployed, but luckily, I qualified for unemployment. In August we moved home to Oregon where we belong. And, late in the year, quite recently actually, I decided to start a private practice, Milestone Music Therapy. Though this year has had challenges, trials, and angst, it was one of my happiest ever. I learned so much about myself and was able to transform negative experiences to positive. I find myself content and pleased with life in general at the end of what some would say was a tumultuous year.

2011 was a great year for the field of music therapy! My friend and colleague, Rachel See Smith, has compiled a chronological list of music therapy in the media in 2011. To see the list, go to: http://musictherapyservices.net/2011-the-year-of-music-therapy-in-the-media/ Thanks Rachel for compiling this extensive list. There were several local news stories across the country as well. When I entered the field as a new music therapist 19 years ago I had to explain what music therapy was constantly. Now, it is rare that I have to do that. For the most part, people recognize what I do for a living and think it’s cool. What a lovely time for the field!

Also, for over 15 years I have claimed that what I do is train, re-train and even re-wire the brain using music. Finally, in 2011, great research is showing that I was right! (I love being right!) Music therapy is being recognized by good neuroscience. So reassuring. I love being a music therapist!!!

So, as 2011 comes to a close, I look back in appreciation for ALL that it was. I hope that 2011 was great for you as well. By great, I mean that you: experienced success, experienced trials, learned something(s) new, lived, breathed, loved and were loved. May 2012 bring wonderful new trials, transformation, opportunities, experiences, relationships, and love to us all.

Blessings! Lillieth

My first Blog ever!

Hi there! As I sit here building this website, I get more and more excited about Milestone Music Therapy and what we will be able to achieve. I have learned so much from my colleagues about how and why to blog. Hopefully in this section of the website I will be able to provide insight, suggestions, helpful information, and even a laugh or two. Thanks for tuning in!

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